STANDARD 9 - MEASUREMENT
All students will develop an understanding of and will use
measurement to describe and analyze phenomena.
Standard 9 - Measurement - Grades K-2
Students can develop a strong understanding of measurement and
measurement systems from consistent experiences in classroom
activities where a variety of manipulatives and technology are used.
The key components of this understanding, as identified in the K12
Overview, are: the concept of a measurement unit; standard
measurement units; connections to other mathematical areas and to
other disciplines; indirect measurement; and, for older
students, measurement error and degree of
Students in the early grades encounter measurement in many
situations, from their daily work with the calendar, to situations in
stories that they are reading, to describing how quickly they are
growing. Hands-on science activities often require students to
measure objects or compare them directly. Daily calendar activities
frequently offer work with temperature, time, and money, in addition
to number. Thus, many opportunities for connections present
themselves in a natural way.
The study of measurement also encourages students to develop their
number sense and to practice their counting skills. By using
measures, students can recognize that numbers are often used to
describe and compare properties of physical objects. Students in the
early grades should make estimates not only of discrete objects like
marbles or seeds but also of continuous properties like the length of
a jumprope or the number of children's feet which might fit in a
Students need to focus on identifying the property that they wish
to measure. They should understand what is meant by the length of an
object or its weight or its capacity. Concrete experiences in
describing the properties of objects, in sorting objects, and in
comparing and contrasting objects provide them with opportunities to
develop these concepts.
Students begin by making direct comparisons. Which string is
longer? Which child is taller? Which rock is heavier? Which
glass holds more? Making comparisons will help children better to
understand the properties which they are discussing. They also begin
to make some indirect measurements. For example, in order to
compare the height of the blackboard with the height of a window, they
might measure both objects using links and then compare the number of
links used for each. In this way, they start to see a need for a
measurement unit, a unit that they can use over and over to
compare to a variety of objects.
In grades K-2, students should use a variety of non-standard units
to measure objects. How many links long is a desk? How
many erasers high are you? How many pennies balance a Unifix cube?
In each case, students should first be asked to make an estimate
and then proceed to actually measure the object. Students should also
use different units to measure the same object. They should begin to
understand that when the size of a measuring unit increases, the
number of units needed to measure the object decreases.
In these grades, students also begin to use standard measurement
units and standard measurement devices such as rulers and scales.
It is important that the students see the use of the standard devices
as simply an extension of their earlier activities. For example, the
use of an inch ruler is just a more efficientprocedure than lining up
a series of cubic inch blocks. Students should explore length using
inches, feet, centimeters and meters; liquid capacity using quarts,
pints, cups, and liters; mass/weight using pounds, ounces, grams, and
kilograms; time using days, weeks, months, years, seconds, minutes,
and hours; and temperature using degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Whether making direct comparisons, using non-standard units, or
using standard measurement units, students in the early grades should
always estimate a measure first and then perform the measurement. In
this way, their estimation and number sense skills will be
Standard 9 - Measurement - Grades K-2
Indicators and Activities
The cumulative progress indicators for grade 4 appear below in
boldface type. Each indicator is followed by activities which
illustrate how it can be addressed in the classroom in kindergarten
and grades 1 and 2.
Experiences will be such that all students in grades K-2:
1. Use and describe measures of length, distance,
capacity, weight, area, volume, time, and temperature.
- Students find out how many cubes long their hand is. The
class can then generate a graph showing the results.
- Using a large map of the school community, students
estimate and then use paper clips or links to measure who lives
farthest from school. This type of activity might be related to a
specific story that was used in the Social Studies unit on
- Students name objects big enough to hold a football or too
small to hold a soccer ball.
- Students lay out a model zoo with several toy animals,
using boxes of different sizes for their cages or yards. They also
cut doors of appropriate sizes in the boxes for the animals.
- Students listen to and look at the book
Let's Find Out about What's Light and
What's Heavy by Martha and Charles Shapp. The
simple text and humorous illustrations lead to the conclusion that
weighing things using a standard unit of weight helps answer the
question in the title.
- Students name objects they can lift and ones that they
- Students estimate and then use balances to find out how
many pennies balance a small familiar object.
- Students cut strips of paper to fit around a pumpkin or to
make Santa's belt.
- Students fill a large bottle with water using first a 4
ounce cup and then an 8 ounce cup. They then compare the results.
- Students make their own measuring jug using a large plastic
jar. They pour in one cupful of water and mark the water level on the
jar with a marker; they repeat this procedure with one cupful after
another until no further cupfuls will fit inside the jar.
- Students read The Little Gingerbread Man and make a
gingerbread village. In doing so, they measure lengths and
- Students make their own paper clip ruler. First they make
a paper clip chain and then paste it down on a long cardboard strip.
They draw a small vertical line where each paper clip ends.
- Students estimate and measure the distance around an object
using Unifix cubes or a paper clip chain.
- Students conduct experiments using timers: How many
times can you bounce a ball before all the water runs out of
the can? How many times can you clap your hands before the
sand runs out of the timer? How many times can you blink your
eyes before the second hand goes all the way around the
- Students read or listen to The Very Hungry
Caterpillar by Eric Carle which shows the time of day at which
various activities occur.
- Students make a book describing their day at school. On
each page, they stamp a clock face and write underneath a time that
the teacher has written on the board. They then draw the hands on the
face to show the time. When the actual time of day on the classroom
clock matches a time in their book, students draw a picture of what
they are doing next to the correct clock face.
- Students line up Cuisenaire Rods in different combinations
to measure the width of a sheet of paper.
2. Compare and order objects according to some
- Kindergarten students listen to and look
at the book Big Friend, Little Friend by Eloise Greenfield. In
it a young boy and his two friends explore situations that clearly
demonstrate what it means to be big and what it means to be little.
As a nice followup assessment activity to this and other manipulative
activities, the teacher has the students draw pictures which
illustrate "big and little."
- Students compare the lengths of pencils to find out which
is longest. They arrange a set of pencils in order from longest to
- Students use water, rice, or sand to fill different
objects, pouring from one object into another to find out which object
holds more. They explain how the shape of each object plays a role in
the amount it holds.
- Students line up in order, from tallest to shortest.
- Children make stick drawings of a family: father, mother,
school-aged child, and baby. They discuss which stick drawings are
taller or shorter than others, and relate these to the relative size
of the individuals in the family.
- Students collect a large variety of cardboard boxes and
arrange them in order from smallest to largest.
- Each group of students is given a cup and several
containers of different sizes, plain white paper, some uncooked rice,
and 1 inch graph paper. They find out how many cups of rice will fit
in each container and show the number of cups as a bar on the graph
paper under a picture of the container. After completing the graph,
they arrange the containers in order from largest to smallest.
- Students work through the Will a Dinosaur
Fit? lesson that is described in the First Four Standards of
this Framework. They arrange the dinosaurs in order from
tallest to smallest according to their height, and from longest to
shortest according to their length.
3. Recognize the need for a uniform unit of
- Students measure the width of their desks by counting how
many widths of their hands it would take to go from one end of the
desk to the other. They compare their results and discuss what would
happen to the number of hands if the teacher's hand were used
- Students read and discuss How Big Is a Foot? by
Rolf Myllar. The king wishes to give the queen a special bed for her
birthday and measures the size using his own foot. He gives the
measurements to the carpenter, who gives them to the little
apprentice. The bed that he makes is too small, but the apprentice
solves the problem and everyone lives happily ever after. The
students use their own feet to measure the width or length of the
hallway and compare their results. Finally, they measure the hallway
using meter sticks.
- As an assessment of the students'
understanding of units, the teacher has the students measure the
length of their math book using paper clips, unifix cubes, and yellow
Cuisenaire Rods. They write about their results and explain why they
4. Develop and use personal referents for standard
units of measure (such as the width of a finger to approximate
- Students identify parts of their body that are the same
length as the unit cube from a base tens block set (1 centimeter).
- Students make a list of foods or drinks that come in quarts
and others that come in liters.
- Students find out that ten pennies weigh about an
- Students find that first-graders are a little taller or a
little shorter than a meter.
5. Select and use appropriate standard and
non-standard units of measurement to solve real-life
- Students decide whether they should use paper clips or
pennies to measure the weight of a pencil.
- Students discuss whether they should use links or meter
sticks to measure the length of the gym.
- Students write about how they might measure the distance
from the cafeteria to their classroom.
6. Understand and incorporate estimation and
repeated measures in measurement activities.
- Students estimate how many of their shoes will fit in a
giant's footprint (left conveniently on the classroom
blackboard!) and write their estimates. They trace around their shoes
and cut out the tracings. After the teacher has pasted a few shoes
onto the giant's footprint, the students revise their estimate.
They then check the accuracy of their estimates by pasting as many
shoes as will fit into the footprint.
- Students estimate the weight of various objects in beans
and then use a balance scale to check the accuracy of their
Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. New York:
Philomel Books, 1987.
Greenfield, Eloise. Big Friend, Little Friend. New York:
Black Butterfly Children's Books, 1991.
Myllar, Rolf. How Big is a Foot? New York: Dell
Shapp, Martha, and Charles Shapp. Let's Find Out
about What's Light and What's Heavy. New
York: Franklin Watts, 1975.
Burton, G., and T. Coburn. Curriculum and Evaluation
Standards for School Mathematics:
Addenda Series: Kindergarten Book. Reston, VA: National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1991.
The Framework will be available at this site during
Spring 1997. In time, we hope to post additional resources
relating to this standard, such as grade-specific activities submitted
by New Jersey teachers, and to provide a forum to discuss the